Constable Helen Grus is facing a disciplinary hearing for alleged misconduct, and her defence counsel claims to have evidence that the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) illegally surveilled her by intercepting her communications on her phone. However, the hearing officer, Superintendent Chris Renwick, denied the defence’s request to introduce this evidence, stating that it was “completely irrelevant.”
The defence also requested to question the prosecution’s witnesses regarding the alleged digital surveillance or a broader OPS investigation of Grus. However, Renwick rejected this request as well, arguing that such information would be “inflammatory” and bring disrepute upon the OPS.
Grus’ defence counsel, Blair Ector and Bath-Sheba van den Berg, submitted documented evidence of the OPS’s digital surveillance of their client between February 18 and 19, 2022. The surveillance was authorized through a warrant obtained under Section 188(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada, which allows for exceptions to the standard requirements in cases of “urgent need.”
The lead prosecutor, Angela Stewart, argued that disclosing any information about the criminal investigation connected to Grus or the methods of electronic surveillance could potentially violate “executive privilege” and compromise ongoing law enforcement operations.
Throughout the hearing, the defence’s attempts to introduce evidence and question witnesses were met with objections from the prosecution and interruptions from Renwick. This led Ector and Van den Berg to ask if they should submit their questions for pre-approval before asking them in court.
Sergeant Jason Arbuthnot, the primary investigator of Grus within the OPS’s professional standards unit, claimed that the broader criminal investigation into Grus was entirely separate from the charges currently before the tribunal. He emphasized that it had “nothing to do” with the alleged misconduct.
While Renwick did not explicitly prohibit the introduction of medical information or expert witnesses regarding the adverse effects of COVID-19 vaccines, he expressed his reluctance to delve into the debate surrounding vaccinations. He stated that he could not allow the tribunal to become a platform for discussing theories and studies related to the medical debate on vaccinations.
During cross-examination, one of the prosecution’s witnesses, a colleague of Grus within the OPS’s sexual assault and child abuse unit, claimed that Grus put her colleagues at risk by not being vaccinated. The witness stated that Grus was the only one in their unit who was unvaccinated and described her as believing in a “socialist conspiracy” surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first two days of Grus’ disciplinary hearing included testimony from her direct supervisor, who explicitly prohibited her from discussing vaccines or COVID-19 at work.
The disciplinary hearing is set to resume on October 30, where further evidence and testimonies will be presented. Grus continues to face misconduct charges, with the defence asserting that she has been unfairly targeted and surveilled by the OPS.